Zogby Research Services conducted polling in eight countries across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the United States, to look at public opinion on the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the Arab Spring, and other recent developments in the region.
Analysts of the Arab Spring should be cautious when invoking historical analogies to explain recent events in the Middle East and North Africa.
In October, Tunisians went the polls and the moderate Islamist party Ennahda won 40 percent of the vote and the right to form a government. It remains to be seen what this will mean for the country, the region, and its relations with the West.
The current uprisings taking place across the Middle East and North Africa are interconnected; the success or failure of one country’s democratic transition could have a direct impact on the prospects for transition in another.
The United States should remain on the sidelines as Arab countries devise new constitutions. While Washington can provide technical assistance if requested, it should allow constitution writing in the Arab world to be an indigenous process.
Countries in transition have no choice but to open up their political system. Excluding and marginalizing Islamists out of fear will only strengthen their popular appeal.
By holding largely peaceful elections just ten months after the fall of its long-time dictator, the country credited with sparking the waves of protest that swept the Arab world is serving as an example to the rest of the region.
While reforming education in the emerging democracies of the Middle East may prove more challenging than political democratization, without it, the future of democracy will remain tenuous at best.
In countries like Syria and Libya, where the situation is still fluid and tumultuous, Tunisia provides a great example of how a transitional election should unfold.
If successful, the Tunisian elections could provide a model for other countries in the region that are experiencing political transitions.